Gnome 2.32: Two Optical Burners

by Darrel Johnston (djohnston)


Described as GnomeBaker CD/DVD Writer in the menu, it can be found in the Archiving section. It is usually the default optical disc burning application for a Gnome desktop. The project page shows version 0.6.4 as being the current one, last updated on June 9th, 2011. This is the version in the PCLinuxOS repositories.

After starting the application, you will see the default window shown below.


The Edit pull down menu has only one option, Preferences. It is here that you set the default settings you want when you open the program. These settings can be changed while performing an operation. But, the program defaults won’t be changed unless done from the Preferences window.  

Under the General tab, you can choose a temporary directory to use, and whether or not to clean the directory upon exit of the program. You can also choose to be notified when burning has completed, and whether to display a progress bar or not.

Selecting the Devices tab shows the system’s optical devices, and whether they are writable or not. I found that you can manually check and uncheck the Write CD-R, Write CD-RW, Write DVD-R and Write DVD-RAM boxes, but it makes no difference to the actual operability of the program or the optical device being used. You can click the Scan for devices button, and all appropriate write options for a given device will be automatically checked. You can manually add a device to the list and always scan for devices at program startup.

Selecting the Advanced tab shows that the default backend used for burning is wodim. I did not attempt to add any other backends. You can also opt to force recording and ignore directories too deep warnings. I do not know if the latter option will overcome some of the  limitations of the genisoimage CLI program.

Selecting the Tools dropdown menu from the program’s main window shows all of the burning options.

The Window dropdown menu is shown below. Note that if Show File Browser is not selected, you won’t see the Places and Name sections in the program’s main window.

I chose to erase the contents of a rewritable CD. 4X was chosen by default, which was the speed the disc was last written at.

Selecting the Speed pulldown menu shows all possible speeds available on the burning device.

The window below shows the CD being erased. After the operation completed, I was given a message to respond to and then returned to the main program window.

From the main window, I next clicked the Data CD button. In the Contents section, double-click “GnomeBaker data disk” and enter a new name to change the volume label of the CD or DVD. I changed it to “TestRun”. You can simply drag and drop files and folders from the file browser section to the contents section to have them included. Used and remaining space is displayed. Once your selections are complete, click the Burn button.


You can elect to write the contents to an image file instead of an optical disc. For some reason, the previously entered volume name is not carried over to an image file as it is to a disc. So, change the name of the image’s iso file in the next window from “gnomebaker.iso” to whatever is desired.

I have found GnomeBaker to be feature complete. It may not have all the bells and whistles of K3B, but it is adequate for almost any optical burning task.


Described as Brasero Disc Burner in the menu, it can also be found in the Archiving section. According to the project page, the latest stable version is 3.0.0, dated April 5th, 2011. But, browsing the archive at, we see that the latest version in the directory tree is 3.4.1, released on April 16th, 2012. The version in the PCLinuxOS repositories is 2.32.1. Shown below is the main window that is displayed when the program is launched.


The functions contained within the program are handled by plugins. The plugins window is shown below. Notice that one of the plugins is grayed out, or “ghosted”.


In fact, only the first four plugins listed can be selected in order to activate or deactivate it or  configure the options for that plugin. Reading the package’s document file at /usr/share/doc/brasero-2.32.1/README, we see this:

Notes on plugins for advanced users

1. configuration

From the UI you can only configure (choose to use or not to use mostly) non essential plugins; that is all those that don't burn, blank, or image.

If you really want to choose which of the latters you want brasero to use, one simple solution is to remove the offending plugin from brasero plugin directory ("install_path"/lib/brasero/plugins/) if you're sure that you won't want to use it.

You can also set priorities between plugins. They all have a hardcoded priority that can be overridden through Gconf. Each plugin has a key in "/apps/brasero/config/priority".

If you set this key to -1 this turns off the plugin. If you set this key to 0 this leaves the internal hardcoded priority - the default that basically lets brasero decide what's best.

If you set this key to more than 0 then that priority will become the one of the plugin - the higher, the more it has chance to be picked up.

2. additional note

Some plugins have overlapping functionalities (i.e. libburn/wodim/cdrecord/growisofs, mkisofs/libisofs/genisoimage); but they don't always do the same things or sometimes they don't do it in the same way. Some plugins have a "speciality" where they are the best. That's why it's usually good to have them all around

As examples, from my experience:

- growisofs is good at handling DVD+RW and DVD-RW restricted overwrite

- cdrdao is best for on the fly CD copying

- libburn returns a progress when it blanks/formats

That is a very imprecise way to handle program functions to me. The best way to handle program plugins would be to include a plugin manager that either enables or disables them. The installation path for the plugins is /usr/lib/brasero/plugins/. Asking a user to remove unwanted plugins by deleting files in the system area is asking too much. Suppose the user decides s/he wants that function later on? Reinstall the program?

While browsing the plugin list, I noticed many items did not show a check mark as being enabled. The first was cdrdao, used for copying, burning and blanking CDs. That function should be enabled by default. I opened Synaptic, installed the cdrdao package and restarted Brasero. The cdrdao plugin was then enabled, but still grayed out. The dvdauthor plugin was disabled, which is used for creating disc images suitable for video DVDs. Installing the dvdauthor package from Synaptic enabled the plugin. The libdvdcss2 package was also installed to enable the dvdcss plugin. That one is understandable, as the package is considered to be illegal in some countries.

Going further, the dvd-rw-format plugin was disabled. Installing the dvd+rw-tools package enabled it. The transcode2vob plugin shows that “mplex” GStreamer plugin could not be found. In an attempt to enable the plugin, I installed the gstreamer0.10-a52dec and gstreamer0.10-dv packages, but to no avail. The transcode2vob plugin is inoperable, although the /usr/lib/brasero/plugins/ directory contains both and files. The vcdimager plugin states that “vcdimager” could not be found in the path. Yet, the file exists in the /usr/lib/brasero/plugins/ directory.

Even more puzzling are these three plugins, not enabled:

cdrecord - burns, blanks and formats CDs and DVDs

mkisofs - creates disc images from a selection of files

readcd - copies any optical disc to a disk image

Not only should all three of those plugins be enabled by default, each one is listed as a symbolic link pointing to another program. Well, the binary executable programs all exist in the /usr/bin directory, named cdrecord, mkisofs and readcd, the exact same names as the plugins. Not only that, the files, and exist in the /usr/lib/brasero/plugins/ directory. If anything, those plugins should have double functionality, not none at all.

In searching the internet for information on the Brasero plugins, I found quite a few user posts echoing the lack of usability, some as late as May of last year. I suspect that having a newer version of the program in our repositories would not add much functionality, if any at all.

Of the plugins that are enabled by default, and not ghosted, Normalization should not be on by default. Imagine that you are creating an audio disc with a recording of Ravel’s Bolero on it. The exceedingly soft passages at the beginning would be enhanced and made louder. The thundering crescendos at the end would be watered down in volume. You’d be left with a recording that would not display the extreme dynamic range of volume in the concert that Ravel originally intended. For me, that would be extremely disappointing.

It is my opinion that the program should be completely revamped. A working plugin manager should be used to handle the program’s functions. That, or package it with dependencies on the backend binaries to be used, and include softlinks to any external binary executables needed. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Just make one that rolls efficiently. Brasero’s usability and functionality cannot hold a candle to GnomeBaker’s.